In the event of war with China over the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea, Japan's defense ministry would attempt a coordinated attack with the US to sink China's first and only aircraft carrier in service, the Liaoning, reports our sister newspaper Want Daily.
The scenario, as reported by the Tokyo-based Sankei Shimbun, would see Japanese F-15J fighters taking out China's advanced aircraft with aid from the US Air Force. Japan would then be able to launch an attack with its F-2 jets against the larger vessels of the PLA Navy.
The PLA Air Force has more fourth-generation fighters than Japan's Air Self-Defense Force.
Chen Guangwen, a Chinese military analyst, said that with air support, the PLA Navy's aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ships would become sitting ducks for American and Japanese aircraft. Yet the plan also necessitates US cooperation as Japan would be unable to take out China's air power unassisted.
Guo Xuan, another Chinese military analyst, said the Liaoning is apparently considered the primary target for the Japanese side, suggesting that wiping out the symbol of growing Chinese maritime power would be a devastating blow for Beijing.
The Liaoning, originally known as the Varyag, was purchased by China from Ukraine in 1998. It was turned over to Dalian Shipyard for retrofitting. After completing its 10th sea trial, the ship was turned over to the PLA Navy on Sep. 15, 2012. In November, the J-15, China's first carrier-based fighter, completed the first landing and take-off test from the ship's flight deck.